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Fundraiser Set Up To Offset Medical Expenses For Daughter’s Heart Condition

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Daughter of Two-Time World Champion Steve “USS” Cunningham Continues to Fight and is Put on Heart Transplant List

Fundraiser set up to help offset mounting medical costs and accommodations to be close to hospital in Pittsburgh

Kennedy & Steve Cunningham…Photo Courtesy of: The Cunningham Family

Philadelphia (July 21, 2014)– America was introduced to Kennedy Cunningham when her father first fought on NBC back in December of 2012 when he faced Tomasz Adamek in that epic battle, we learned that she suffered from a severed heart condition called HLHS.

In April when Steve fought Amir Mansour on NBC Sports, the family had just received heart breaking news when they we told that Kennedy was not a candidate for heart transplant as they had hoped.

She had her first open heart surgery at 2 days old and the second six months later. She was hospitalized for the first year of her life and suffered many set backs along the way, including a stroke, many blood infections and also required a trach and vent for several years when she was younger. The doctors that cared for her back then all say that she is a miracle, they saw everything she went through and never thought she would live to be 8 years old! Now, almost 9 years later she continues to show us how tough she is!

Most children with HLHS undergo a third repair which can allow them to live into adulthood, however it was determined that Kennedy was not a candidate due to the anatomy of her heart and the extent of its defects (small pulmonary arteries and tricuspid valve regurgitation). It was then that we were advised that she would have to have a heart transplant. She went through the entire transplant evaluation in our hometown of Philadelphia at the Children’s Hospital there and in March our world was shattered when we were told by the Heart Failure team at CHOP that Kennedy was not a candidate for transplant or any other surgery. We were told, “no matter what, Kennedy is going to die far too soon”. They told Steve and his wife Livvy that the best they could do was give her medicine to help her heart function but that there would come a time when her heart would give out and there would be nothing they could do.

Steve & Kennedy…Photo Courtesy of: The Cunningham Family

“I was so completely heart broken the day her doctor sat me down and gave me the news,” said Livvy. “My world collapsed. I cried for 3 days straight while I tried to wrap my head around the news and tried to figure out how to live without the hope of a beautiful future for our beautiful daughter, tried to picture our lives without her. I just couldn’t, it was impossible”

The Cunninghams are a faithful, fighting family and decided ‘they were not going to give up on their daughter and just watch her fade away. They chose to seek a second opinion. The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh agreed to evaluate her and on June 25th, 2014, Kennedy was accepted into their program and listed for a heart transplant! Receiving a heart transplant is giving her a fighting chance to live the full, energy filled life that every child deserves.

“I’ll never forget the day I got the call from my wife with the news, I broke down like never before, I lost it. I was in the middle of my training camp for a must win fight. People close to me told me I should pull out of the fight, that it was too much for me. But I knew that I had to fight for Kennedy, she has been through so many battles in her life and has never once given up and I was not going to let her see her father quit. I turned my sadness and fear into determination and on fight night, I had to dig deep but it was that determination that got me up off the canvas twice to win. We will never give up on Kennedy and are so blessed and excited that The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh has agreed to take her on and list her”, said Steve Cunningham.

Kennedy Cunningham…Photo Courtesy of: The Cunningham Family

Now that Kennedy is listed in Pittsburgh, the Cunninghams’ have to travel there 1-2 times per month for appointments and have to be ready at any time to jump on the road when they get “the call” that she has her new heart waiting for her. Once that call comes in, they will have 4 hours to get her to Pittsburgh and right now, they live 4.5 hours away.

Additionally, they will have to remain in the Pittsburgh area for at least 6 months post-op so housing must also be arranged.

After Steve’s thrilling win on April 4, fans and the boxing community reached out to Steve and Livvy asking how they could help. The Cunningham’s have set up a fund where donations will help this family cover the out of pocket expenses that come along with this amazing opportunity. Traveling to and from Pittsburgh as well as securing and maintaining a “home away from home” while Kennedy awaits her new heart and recovers from surgery.

TO DONATE TO THE KENNEDY CUNNINGHAM TRANSPLANT FUNDRAISER, PLEASE CLICK ON heartbyfaith.com

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

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The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.

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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score

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This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.

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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland

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On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda

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